Pupils happy back in class

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Pupils at Dunstan High School in Alexandra are delighted to be back at school after the Covid-19 lockdown period.

Maria McKeen had mainly been focusing on school work during lockdown but had also helped out on the family farm.
‘‘We have a goat farm so [I’ve been] just keeping up with the chores, making sure everyone is happy.’’
As an only child she had been spending lots of ‘‘good family time’’ with her parents, she said.
She was happy back in the classroom and reconnecting with friends.
There was an ‘‘authenticity’’ about being back in a classroom that she enjoyed.

Hannah Tait had been spending time on her school work but also trying to keep fit — ‘‘focusing on lots of exercise’’.
The best thing about being back at school was seeing her friends in person ‘‘and actually being in a class’’.
Remote lessons using videoconferencing applications such as Zoom had been good but was ‘‘not the same’’ as being in the classroom.

Ethan Knights had mainly been doing schoolwork and also helping out on the family farm.
He was enjoying being back in the classroom and being able to see his friends.
Maz Cameron had been studying but had also spent time working at the local New World supermarket as an essential worker.
‘‘On the whole everyone was really good, and it was good to have social interaction at a time where that was not really possible.’’
Although he was of a generation which used social media, it did not replace being able to see people in person, he said.

Principal Reece Goldsmith said almost all pupils were back at school, and a ‘‘very small handful’’ who were still at home were expected to return to school next week.
Some of the challenges returning to school after about seven weeks of isolation were the ‘‘new normal’’ of hygiene and physical distancing.
‘‘We got some great advice from the Ministry of Health but also we contacted a few principals in Christchurch and talked about what they did after the earthquakes.
‘‘They emphasised routines, they emphasised kindness, empathy and reconnecting.’’
Another piece of advice was to not get too focused on using the Covid-19 pandemic as a learning tool.
It was better to allow pupils some time away from thinking about Covid-19 and return to it later.